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Alain Johannes - Spark

  by Andrew Carver

published: 30 / 6 / 2011



Alain Johannes - Spark
Label: Rekords Rekords
Format: CD

intro

Emotive solo debut album from former Eleven and Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Alain Johannes, which pays tribute to the memory of his bandmate and partner Natasha Schneider


Alain Johannes may be the musical collaborator’s musical collaborator, having worked with a pre-Red Hot Chili Peppers Flea and Hillel Slovak, popsmith Jason Falkner, ex-Soundgarden man Chris Cornell, No Doubt and UNKLE, as well as a long association with Josh Homme through several Queens For The Stone Age Albums, Desert Sessions discs and Them Crooked Vultures’ touring outfit. But his longest association was with Natasha Schneider, both personally and professionally. They released ‘Walk Under The Moon’ in 1987 and released four albums in the trio Eleven between 1993 and 2003. In 2008, Schneider died of cancer. Johannes has created ‘Spark’, his first solo album, in her memory, and his feelings of loss are evident from the word go. ‘Endless Eyes’ sets the album’s pace, with Johannes singing “It’s killing me to go on living” in the chorus over vigorous paired acoustic instruments. Much of the music backing is acoustic, using his trademark cigar-box guitar, with a flamenco feel thanks to his speedy picking. Although the lyrics have a mournful feel, buttressed by Johannes’ aching croon, much of the music itself has a zesty, Eastern-influence style supplemented by simple drums. Things do pull back on songs like ‘The Bleeding Whole’ where Johannes mournfully sings “Emptiness feels a bleeding hole” over a sombre plucked guitar and snail’s pace tambourine. Things cheer up with the next song, ‘Gentle Ghosts’, which looks forward to better things in the life beyond for the departed. By album’s end - less than 30 minutes after it began - Johannes is ready to sing “You were not afraid of letting go, so I am not afraid of letting go,” on ‘Unfinished Plan’, having reached some peace of mind. As a testament to both love and musical virtuosity, ‘Spark’ is a winner.



Track Listing:-
1 Endless Eyes
2 Return To You
3 Speechless
4 Make God Jealous
5 Spider
6 The Bleeding Whole
7 Gentle Ghosts
8 Unfinished Plan



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